Have questions about employment law? Your Southern California employment law attorney has answers.
Get Started TodayWe’ve compiled answers to some of the most common questions we receive about employment law here, but if you have further questions please don’t hesitate to contact us.
What is at-will employment?
Many people assume at-will employment means that an employer can fire an employee at any time for any reason. This is only true so long as the reason is not illegal. Examples of illegal causes for termination of at-will employment include discrimination based on age, race, gender, etc.; retaliation for medical, pregnancy, or disability leave; and retaliation for whistleblowing.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination is the dismissal of any employee for an unlawful reason that constitutes a violation of the Labor Code. For example, if you were fired due to discrimination, because you took medical leave, because you got pregnant, because you asked for overtime, because you requested accommodation for a disability or protection from sexual harassment, or for engaging in whistleblowing activities, you could bring a wrongful termination claim against your employer.
What constitutes a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment is any workplace in which a protected category is targeted for harassment, humiliation, or abuse. Protected categories include race, age, sex, gender, ethnicity, religion, etc. Just because your boss is angry or mean doesn’t mean you have a hostile work environment!
Who is a whistleblower?
Contrary to media portrayals, an employee doesn’t have to work for a high-profile company or uncover a huge illegal conspiracy to qualify as a whistleblower. A whistleblower is any individual who reports or refuses to participate in wrongdoing in the workplace. The report could be made to an internal department or an external organization like the EEOC. The wrongdoing could be anything from unsafe work conditions to sexual harassment to selling an inferior product or misusing government funds. In any case, the whistleblower may be subject to retaliation on the part of the employer and deserves protection from an experienced attorney.
How much pregnancy leave can I take?
That depends. Typically, women are entitled to up to 4 months of leave, especially if they experienced complications like post partum depression or severe morning sickness that qualify them for disability leave. If your employer offers more than 4 months of leave for other kinds of temporary disabilities, you are entitled to an equal amount of leave for your pregnancy. Pregnancy disability leave may be taken before or after birth, and in addition you may take 12 weeks of CFRA (California Family Rights Act) leave to bond with your new baby after birth.
Can I request medical leave as an accommodation of a disability?
Yes, medical leave can serve as an acceptable accommodation for disability in certain situations. For example, let’s say your job requires you to lift 25 pounds but you have injured your back and your doctor has forbidden you to lift anything for 6 months. Your employer will have to analyze your job responsibilities to see how essential the lifting is to your position. If it is marginal function, you may simply be excused from lifting for 6 months as an accommodation for your disability. If it is a core function, you may be offered 6 months of medical leave instead. Your employer doesn’t have to accept your proposed or preferred accommodation as long as they provide a reasonable alternative. If no alternative is possible, they must demonstrate that providing accommodation would constitute an “undue hardship.”
What kind of documentation do I need to prove a discrimination claim?
Your employment attorney will help you to secure the documentation needed to support your specific claim, but in general you should bring as much of the following documentation as possible to your southern California discrimination attorney:
-Your personnel file
-A copy of the employee handbook
-A journal of your experience
-Mental or medical health records
-Witness list with contact information